Pence Calls Out Media for ‘Spending More Time Criticizing’ Trump Than Neo-Nazis

After all three broadcast networks spent Sunday blaming President Trump for the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend, in an exclusive interview with NBC News aired on Monday’s Today show, Vice President Mike Pence took the liberal media to task for its biased coverage.

Talking to correspondent Peter Alexander during a trip to Central America on Sunday, Pence scolded the press: “I will tell you that I take issue with the fact that many in the media are spending more time criticizing how the President addressed the issue yesterday....many in the media have spent an awful lot of time focusing on what the President said and criticisms of what the President said, instead of criticizing those who brought that hatred and violence to the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia.”

 

 

Rather than discuss the purpose of Pence’s overseas travel, Alexander spent the entire exchange discussing what was wrong with the President’s response to the violence on Saturday:

>  I traveled down here to Colombia yesterday with the Vice President and during our exclusive interview he did what many critics say the President should have done, he condemned white nationalists, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis. So I began by our conversation by asking him why the President hasn’t called out those evil groups by name.

> You say that, why won’t the President use those same words? Why hasn’t he?

> To be fair, some Americans heard that, others didn’t, including Orin Hatch, who wrote, “We should call evil by its name. My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.” Was it a mistake for the President not to be more clear when he made those remarks? And if you were advising him now, would you suggest he do it differently?

> He said on “many sides.” Name those sides. What are the sides?...Well that’s one side, what’s the other side? He says on many sides.

>  But only one group yesterday – with respect, only one group yesterday, Mr. Vice President, killed an American.

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Proving Pence’s point on Sunday, all three networks focused on blasting Trump:

Cokie Roberts Blames Trump/Sessions for Sending ‘Signals’ to Racists

NBC Lashes Out at President Trump After Charlottesville Attack

Slate’s Bouie: The ‘Roots’ of Charlottesville Found at the White House

Alexander’s contentious exchange with Pence was brought to viewers by Microsoft, StateFarm, and Cheerios.

Here is a full transcript of the August 14 segment:

7:09 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: We are hearing from the Vice President, Mike Pence, this morning as  he begins a week-long trip to South and Central America. While he singled out white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the KKK, he also defended the President for not being specific in citing those groups in his initial statement. NBC National Correspondent Peter Alexander is traveling with the Vice President and spoke with him one on one. Peter, good morning.

PETER ALEXANDER: Savannah, good morning to you. I traveled down here to Colombia yesterday with the Vice President and during our exclusive interview he did what many critics say the President should have done, he condemned white nationalists, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis. So I began by our conversation by asking him why the President hasn’t called out those evil groups by name.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Pence Defends Trump; Vice President on Criticism of President’s Remarks]

MIKE PENCE: President Trump yesterday stated clearly that he condemns hate and violence in all of its in forms. We will not tolerate hatred and violence of groups like white supremacists, the KKK, and the neo-Nazis. These extremist fringe groups have no place in the American debate.

ALEXANDER: But you say that –

PENCE: And we condemn them in the strongest possible terms.

ALEXANDER: You say that, why won’t the President use those same words? Why hasn’t he?

PENCE: I think the American people heard the President yesterday speak plainly and condemn, in his words, in the strongest possible terms, organizations that purvey hate and violence. I think the American people heard him. But what they also heard, Peter, was the President calling for national unity.

ALEXANDER: To be fair, some Americans heard that, others didn’t, including Orin Hatch, who wrote, “We should call evil by its name. My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.” Was it a mistake for the President not to be more clear when he made those remarks? And if you were advising him now, would you suggest he do it differently?

PENCE: I think the President yesterday spoke into a national moment, words that the American people needed to hear, that we condemn acts of violence, acts of hatred.

ALEXANDER: He said on “many sides.” Name those sides. What are the sides?

PENCE: Well, look. As I said today, we condemn in the strongest terms the hate and violence advocated by groups like white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and their ilk.

ALEXANDER: Well that’s one side, what’s the other side? He says on many sides.

PENCE: Well, as you look throughout the course of the years, we’ve seen protests turn violent. We’ve seen fringe groups use peaceful protest environment to bring violence in some cases against police officers to tragic results.

ALEXANDER: But only one group yesterday – with respect, only one group yesterday, Mr. Vice President, killed an American.

PENCE: And we’re bringing the full weight of the federal government to bear on investigating and prosecuting that individual for that heinous act that took the life of that innocent woman.

I will tell you that I take issue with the fact that many in the media are spending more time criticizing how the President addressed the issue yesterday –  

ALEXANDER: But this is Orin Hatch and Cory Gardner, it’s not me. I’m reading their quotes.

PENCE: Well, many in the media have spent an awful lot of time focusing on what the President said and criticisms of what the President said, instead of criticizing those who brought that hatred and violence to the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia.

ALEXANDER: At the end of our conversation, I asked the Vice President if this was an act of domestic terrorism. He says it may well have been. He said the administration is exploring that, that the President has directed the Department of Justice to initiate a full investigation into an attack that he said was well eerily similar to the other terrorist attacks around the world. Craig and Savannah?

GUTHRIE: Peter Alexander, thank you so much.


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